Monday, June 15, 2009

FOI Disclosure Stories 25 May - 7 June 2009

Revealed: the unreported nuclear accident - Channel 4 11/06/09
“A disaster narrowly avoided, a danger only spotted by chance - yet the company involved faces no prosecution. Channel 4 News tells the untold story of Sizewell A, one Britain's older nuclear power plants. These are details that, but for a Freedom of Information request, would have remained secret. Two years ago, a burst pipe inside the Sizewell A station led to a huge leak from the pond used to cool thousands of nuclear fuel rods.”

Stagecoach paid double for South West franchise
- The Times 11/06/09
“Stagecoach paid almost £600million more than the next nearest bidder to retain Britain's biggest rail franchise, according to documents released by the Department for Transport (DfT) under the Freedom of Information Act. The transport group agreed to pay £1.191billion for the 10-year South West Trains contract - twice as much as any of the three other bidders was willing to pay.”

Drug Rape Accusations: Only 3% Reach Court
- Sky News 10/6/09
“Women who report being drugged and raped to the police have very little chance of seeing their attacker going to court, figures show. Data obtained under the freedom of information act reveals a mere 1% of alleged drug rape cases end up with a conviction and that only 3% are even prosecuted. The national rate for overall rape convictions is 7%.”

Critics find NHS's £12m spend on homeopathy hard to swallow
- Guardian Unlimited 10/06/09
“Homeopathy, which many doctors argue has an effect only in the mind of the believer, cost the cash-strapped NHS £12m over three years, according to figures released under the Freedom of Information Act. Homeopathic treatments have been described as ‘biologically implausible’ by the UK's only professor of complementary medicine, Edzard Ernst of Exeter University. They are highly diluted solutions that may contain no discernible trace of the original ingredients.”

Postcode lottery in rape convictions 'getting worse'
- The Guardian 10/06/09
“The postcode lottery faced by rape victims seeking justice has worsened despite huge government efforts, with women in some areas 11 times more likely to see assailants found guilty than in others, official figures show today. Data obtained by the equality campaigning group, the Fawcett Society, reveals that in the worst area, Dorset, fewer than one in 60 women who went to police in 2007 saw an attacker convicted of rape.”

DNA policy 'stigmatises children' - BBC 08/06/09
“DNA samples are being taken from children in a London borough at the rate of nearly one a day, figures show. A freedom of information (FOI) request by the Liberal Democrats showed DNA has been taken from an average of 360 young people in Camden every year since 2000. The samples, from children as young as 10, have been kept regardless of whether charges were ever brought.”

34,000 'pension millionaires' in the public sector
- 07/06/09
“Almost 34,000 public sector workers have retired with pension pots of at least £1m, new figures show. The largest number of ‘pension millionaires’ is found in the National Health Service, which has 22,999, according to figures released under the Freedom of Information Act. Other public sector pension millionaires include 3,680 former civil servants and 2,658 teachers.”

BBC bosses almost lost faith in 'disgusting' Monty Python
– The Independent 01/06/09
“Audience ratings for the first show [of Monty Python's Flying Circus], broadcast 40 years ago, were the lowest for any light entertainment show and the BBC management soon lost patience with the Python's 'disgusting and nihilistic' humour, according to documents from the time relayed to The Independent.”

Food and chauffeurs - quangocrats are at it too - The Times 31/05/09
“Council chiefs and quangocrats are claiming up to £35,000 a year each in expenses for hotels, lavish meals, sat navs and, in one case, £18.50 for dishwasher tablets. One quango boss made 12 trips abroad during two years in which she claimed £70,000 in expenses. Another claimed nearly £800 for a 42in flatscreen television which he said he would watch only in ‘times of emergency’. Another spent £16,500 on chauffeur-driven cars.”

UK won’t hit its target for renewables - The Sunday Times 31/05/09
“Britain is failing to green its economy, according to previously unpublished reports from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). The internal forecasts show that by 2020 the UK will be sourcing only 5% of its energy from renewables, far short of the 15% target we signed up to with the European Commission."

Watchdogs paid staff £25m in bonuses
- Guardian Unlimited 31/05/09
“Government watchdogs [the Financial Services Authority] were under fire last night after it emerged they paid out £25m in staff bonuses last year, despite serious problems in some of the areas they regulate and at a time when the country was sliding towards recession. Watchdog executives on salaries of more than £100,000 received £5m of the bonus payments, figures obtained by the Liberal Democrats under the Freedom of Information Act show.”

Universities overclaiming millions - 30/05/09
“Universities are overclaiming millions of pounds of public funding for students who they fail to recruit or who drop out, it can be revealed. Almost £100 million has been overpaid over the last eight year, with some institutions, such as Lincoln, Huddersfield, Anglia Ruskin, in Cambridgeshire, Thames Valley, Leeds Metropolitan, Birmingham City, and Hertfordshire Universities claiming in excess of £1 million more than they are entitled to because of miscalculations in student numbers."

Colleges defy pressure over private pupils
- 29/05/09
“Several Cambridge colleges are consistently accepting disproportionately high numbers of private school students compared with their peers despite government pressure to increase the number of state school students at top universities, a freedom-of-information request by the Financial Times shows. One of the most striking examples is St John’s, one of Cambridge’s biggest colleges, which took 55 per cent of its UK undergraduates from private schools last year…”

Blackmail fear over lost RAF data – BBC 25/05/09
“The government has kept secret the loss of highly sensitive RAF vetting records, which one wing commander says leaves individuals open to blackmail... An internal MoD memo - obtained by a former officer and passed to BBC Two's Who's Watching You? programme - shows the lost files contained ‘details of criminal convictions, investigations, precise details of debt, medical conditions, drug abuse, use of prostitutes, extra-marital affairs including the names of third parties’.”

Less than one in three pupils taking history GCSE
- Guardian Unlimited 26/05/09
“Fewer than a third of teenagers took a GCSE in history last year, according to official figures revealed by the Conservatives today. Last summer a total of 202,482 pupils entered for the exam, leaving 451,410 children who did not. The figures, released after a Freedom of Information Act request, show a drop in the proportion of teenagers taking history over the last 10 years, which the Tories blame on the government's policy of publishing league tables.


Mystery of 10,000 missing overseas students
- Yorkshire Post 13/06/09
“More than 10,000 places at Yorkshire universities have been offered to overseas applicants who then failed to enrol – raising new fears that the student visa system has been abused to enter the country. Figures obtained by the Yorkshire Post under the Freedom of Information Act show that in the past three academic years 10,407 candidates – almost entirely from outside the European Union – were given university places in the region but never arrived.”

Welsh Assembly Goverment spends £5m on hire cars
- Daily Post 12/06/09
“The Welsh Assembly Government spent £5m in five years on hire cars for use by civil servants… The Assembly Government had a vehicle hire contract with Europcar UK Ltd for the past five years, available for use by staff, it was revealed.”

Bristol hospitals spent £66m on agency staff - This is Bristol 03/06/09
“Health trusts in the Bristol area spent more than £66 million filling staffing gaps in a 20-month period. Figures obtained by the Post using the Freedom of Information Act show that more than 2-million overtime and agency hours were paid for to ensure that there was sufficient cover at the hospitals and ambulance service.”

Just one in five Tube sex offenders is caught
– London Evening Standard 01/06/09
“Transport police are only tracking down one in five sex offenders who strike on the London Underground, figures show today. There were 338 sex crimes on the network in 2008/09, according to British Transport Police figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Only 71 cases were solved, a detection rate of 21 per cent.”

School probe over extra £2.1m in building work
- Nottingham Evening Post 01/06/09
“A school’s building work went £2.1m over budget because no official project manager was in place, it has been revealed. Findings of an investigation at Nottingham Bluecoat School and Technology College have now been released to The Post under the Freedom of Information Act. The school's Aspley campus was developed throughout 2005 and 2006 but delays and design changes sent costs rocketing – leading to the probe in 2007.”

West Midlands ambulance chief: 999 patients being put at risk - 31/05/09
“Letters from senior officials at Britain's second largest ambulance service reveal mounting concerns over the ‘constant and prolonged’ delays for patients arriving at Accident and Emergency units In the correspondence, disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act, senior figures from West Midlands Ambulance service trust detail concerns about the hold-ups to hospital managers.”


Stow College officials accused in £3m funds row – The Herald 02/06/09
“A Scottish college has been accused of failings in management and governance after it claimed millions of pounds in public money for courses that it paid a private company to deliver at a fraction of the cost. Stow College, in Glasgow, received some £3m of taxpayers' money between 2003 and 2008 for construction courses that were run by a training company at a cost to the college of just £867,000.”

Opposition councillors blast £23.8million cost of employing temporary workers
– Press and Journal 02/06/09
“Aberdeen City Council was under fire last night after it emerged it spent more than the Scottish Government on hiring temporary workers over the last three years. The local authority paid agencies £23.8million for temporary staff between 2006 and this year – £7.2million more than the government spent.”

More than 500 Scottish jobs in teaching ‘at risk’
– The Herald 01/06/09
“More than 500 teaching jobs could be lost this year as a £61m squeeze on education budgets begins to bite. Figures on efficiency savings released by 22 local education authorities have provoked a bitter row over whether the concordat between councils and the Scottish Government is leading to cuts in frontline staff. The figures obtained under freedom of information legislation show education budgets in Glasgow have been squeezed by £8.7m as part of the government drive to produce efficiency savings of 2% across the public sector.”

No comments: